newberryobserver.com

College students share daily value of Pi

By Elyssa Parnell eparnell@civitasmedia.com

March 18, 2014

NEWBERRY — What do pie and mathematicians have in common? Nothing unless it’s International Pi Day.


Students from Newberry College and Newberry High School participated in “Pi Day” activities March 14 as a fun way to celebrate mathematics.


According to pieday.org, Pi Day is celebrated March 14 around the world. Pi (Greek symbol ∏) is the symbol used in mathematics to represent a constant — the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, which is approximately 3.14159.


Pi has been calculated to over one trillion digits beyond its decimal point. As an irrational and transcendental number, Pi continues infinitely without repetition or pattern.


While only a handful of digits are needed for typical calculations, Pi’s infinite nature makes it a fun challenge to memorize, and to computationally calculate more and more digits


Newberry College’s math club, the Society of Undergraduate Mathematicians or SUM, hosted two events in honor of Pi Day. The first was to give out actual pies and bracelets to students that morning. The bracelets had the phrase “Math’s as easy as Pi” on them.


The second event included professors Chris Sheppard and Jennifer Morrison participating in “Pi a Professor” on the quad of the college’s campus.


Sheppard and Morrison volunteered to be “pi’d” by students pending they could find the answers to mathematical questions. Once the question was answered correctly, the student had the opportunity to throw a whipped cream pie at one of their professors.


Morrison said what she found the most amusing about the experience was that she and Sheppard were two of the most reserved professors on campus, yet the ones that ended up volunteering.


“We love our students,” Morrison said. “It was just a good chance to have a good time.”


Nicole Teal, president of SUM, said the idea came to the group at the beginning of this semester as they listed a variety of ideas and narrowed down what they’d like to do to represent the holiday.


Alex Quintero, a student at Newberry College, said that because he did not personally have Morrison or Sheppard as a professor, he didn’t feel as bad throwing pies at them.


“I just think it’s good to have fun with our professors,” Quintero said.


Pi Chains


Faith Carnes, a math teacher at Newberry High School, did several activities with her students in recognition of Pi Day on March 14. Together, the class made “pi chains” and necklaces, as well as read a book revolving around mathematical concepts, titled Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi: A Math Adventure.


“I wanted my students to have a better understanding of pi as an irrational number,” Carnes said. “Irrational numbers are never ending decimals. My students could better see the never ending concept with chains and beads.”


Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi: A Math Adventure revolves around the three characters of Sir Cumference, Lady Di of Ameter, and Radius.


Radius is on a quest through the castle to solve a riddle that reveals the cure in discovering the magic number that is the same for all circles.


Carnes said she thought her students really enjoyed the book, bringing a fun ending to a day dedicated to a mathematical concept.


For more photos from Newberry County schools celebrating Pi Day, see page 5.